Mute – 2018

Director Duncan Jones
Screenplay Michael Robert Johnson & Duncan Jones
Starring Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Seyneb Saleh, Robert Sheehan, Gilbert Owur, Jannis Niewöhner, Sam Rockwell

There comes a point when they’ve redone a film genre enough that you can become jaded and tired of the whole thing when there are parts that may hold up under other circumstances. Mute is Duncan Jones’ Blade Runner flavored tribute to his late father and the nanny, Marion Skene, who took care of him in his Duncan’s youth. If you don’t know Duncan Jones’ father, it won’t make sense to you why this film is set in futuristic Berlin. Some might consider the city to be a cultural hot bed. Others might consider it to be a trivia question. It seems to be largely irrelevant when taken in context of the look of this film.

Neon lights and red light districts have only been done thousands of times before. The effect of an overly sensitive Alexander Skarsgård playing the titular mute Leo, wandering to and fro, looking for his prostitute girlfriend (Saleh) adds some interest to the viewer bombarded with distracting images.  When we discover he works with wood and we see his girlfriend lift an incredibly large bedpost that he hand carved, one knows instinctively why we’ll see that again. Definitely not to admire the woodwork.

Yes, there are many members of the LGBT etc. group represented throughout. None of this arouses any sensations whatsoever. So far on the edge of inter sectional life style does this story strain to represent, one of the main antagonists, Theroux’s Duck, openly lusts for little girls in a distracting way. It’s frowned upon to the point where his character is threatened by his fellow antagonist partner (Rudd, as Cactus Bill). There is never any feeling beyond, “just don’t do this to my kid.”

Rudd, as a bad guy is the reason one is drawn to this film. In this respect, he is unlike we’ve seen him before. Cactus Bill and Duck are a couple of surgeons who work for the mob on the side. Bill has a daughter that, as indicated earlier, he loves enough to not want her molested. He doesn’t mind having her watched by whichever prostitute is not on duty, however.

It’s wearying to watch this kind of stuff and then attempt to glean a story from what remains. Why is this other stuff here? Do we learn anything about life from this film? What is fun from watching a bunch of unsavory people on screen and a plot rehashed to the point where the only thrill one gets is when there is something that reaches the screen that is not expected?

There are some good points to the film, though. Skarsgård is alright, if you don’t take the blanch at the one time Tarzan lose to people in worse shape than movie reviewers through much of the story. When it comes time to kick ass, though, he does with an alarming amount of ease.

There is a connection to the movie Moon. Safe to say that this 10 second crossover is more interesting than seeing people pose robots in provocative positions while dressing in drag and pumping themselves with estrogen. Whatever message Jones wants to impart is distracted by the “where is the girl plot” he places central to everything. There are moments of the film that look fantastic to go with the stuff one just doesn’t wish was in high definition.

Netflix is pushing out a lot of stuff that is not being picked up other places. They are grabbing a lot of properties and talents that are on a downward swing. If they keep this trend up, they may need to change the name of the company to Developed Hell.

(* out of *****)


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